Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

God likes to Share Secrets…

15 Jun

 

 

Sitting in a Bible Study one morning, I was tired and cranky and having a hard time finding anything of interest in what was being taught. Just at my most uninterested moment, God stepped in and brought life to his word.

 

In John’s account of Mary at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection, it reads “but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” John 20:6-12

 

I’ve read the passage many times, but this time God spoke. “Do you want to hear something interesting,” he said to my heart.

 

 “Yeah,” I responded eagerly, excited for revelation that was about to hit me. The Bible is a fantastic book; it’s full of history, life stories and the guiding principles God intends for his people. I have read the whole Bible, actually several times over and over again for the last twelve years. Many times I’ve read simply out of obedience. I would read a chapter and not understand it or even forget that I had read it altogether.

 

However…there is this other, deeper side to the Bible; one that is full of revelation only accessed through God’s Holy Spirit. When you hit that vein…it’s like striking oil.  Words that never made sense or seemed to be just words, suddenly pop of the page, grabbing your heart in both hands and usually sending your mind reeling. Your entire being seems illuminated and ringing in tune with the Truth. Yet, at the same time you feel small and insignificant compared to the size of the revelation you’re trying to digest.

 

“Do you know why two angels were in the tomb, one at the head and the other at the feet of where Jesus had been placed in the tomb,” God said coyly.

 

I didn’t know; I just thought it was because there were two angels standing around in the tomb to testify about Jesus’ resurrection.  “No, why,” I asked.

 

“They are the real, manifested angels who had been only symbolically portrayed at the top of the Ark of the Covenant.”

 

Understandably, this might not mean much to you or make much sense, but for me it was a moment of pure bliss and revelation…the Bible coming to life and giving imagery to the gold covered Ark with two angels at the top which the Israelites carried through the desert, described in Exodus 25, “And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends.”

 

For me, this revelation sent my mind into outer space and gave me a whole new appreciation for God’s intricate timing and structure regarding his interaction between heaven and humanity.

 

For you, I hope it brings a comfort and a challenge. Comfort if you currently are reading the Bible and find it dry and boring at times; but a challenge that there is more. Before God’s revelation came about the Ark, I had read the passage several times. I had questions in my heart regarding what was written, but I allowed them to linger unanswered and wasn’t offended that my questions weren’t being resolved. That is always fertile ground for God to plant in; He loves a hungry heart.

 

What’s a passage in scripture that challenges or even offends you? Keep it close, lose the offense, but seek the Truth and God will eventually bring revelation through the Spirit that will blow you away!

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Face to Face with the Holy Spirit: Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 4

2 Jun

At first, I didn’t tell anyone about my “Night of Terror.” I was unsure of what exactly had happened and felt that if I shared the experience, they might get spooked out or wonder about my sanity. “This Holy Spirit stuff is terrifying,” I thought to myself. “THAT, THAT…whatever that was, is exactly why I wanted nothing to do with this spirit nonsense!” Resolved to shut out the supernatural for good this time, I decided to put this Holy Spirit thing behind me and move on!  

 

Apparently even though I was determined to be done with the Holy Spirit, God wouldn’t let it go. A few days later I woke from a terrifying dream. I was shaken with fear and back in that dark place; however, very slightly, to my soul I could feel God almost reprimanding me. “There is no fear in love,” he prompted me sternly. “If you have fear, you are not in Christ. It’s impossible to be in Christ and fear.”  Then he issued a command, “Try again.”

 

Not so sure God really understood the circumstances, I finally decided to open up and share about my situation and God’s desire for me to take another whack at this filling, or baptism, or demonic open house deal. After explaining the situation to my parents, they reassured me, “It’s a counter attack.”

 

“What is this,” I thought to myself, “World War Three!”

 

My dad went on, “Satan used your childhood fears to scare you out of moving forward. He capitalized on your weakness because he’s worried you’ll find out who you really are in Christ.” I was surprised there was no surprise on his part. “He’s especially concerned about you becoming a Spirit filled Christian who walks in the power and authority of Christ Jesus. That’s Satan’s worst nightmare…you moving from a ‘good Christian’ to a believer relying on God’s Spirit.”

 

So, tucked under my covers that night, I made another attempt at inviting the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure why I was so formal, but my journal notes record that I kept repeating, “may the Spirit live in me, may the Spirit live in me, may the Spirit live in me…” As I was drifting off to sleep, suddenly, what felt like 1,000 volts of electricity, bolted through my body.  Like a closed circuit, power was running on loop from my head to my toes, vibrating every fiber of my being with energy. Yet instead of being deadly and draining, it was energizing and life giving! It felt as though light was streaming from every pore, and my whole body slightly trembled from the “surge.”

 

Swimming in bliss, I slowly opened my eyes to the “real world.” Directly over me, hovering parallel to my body, with five inches between us, was a figure. The general form of a person, I could make out a head and shoulders with a “body” that continued down the bed. Face to face, I encountered the living Spirit, the Holy Spirit, of God Almighty. S/he was majestic. Though the face had no distinct identity, the being swirled with every color of the rainbow in an iridescent light show. There was the sudden awareness that while I was in my room, I was not in this “reality.” The whole space seemed to be transcendent…other worldly.

 

Paralyzed in awe, the Holy Spirit leaned down just slightly and gently kissed my forehead. I winced in shock and closed my eyes tightly. Over the next twenty minutes, God continued to energize me with his power and I eventually drifted into a deep, peaceful sleep.

 

Waking up the next morning, I was still me. All the “feelings” were gone, and there was no evidence of the experience. While the event was transformational, the change in me was almost imperceptible at first. It was over the years looking back that I could quantify the now living and active Holy Spirit in me, working through me, empowering me to hear and do God’s will in my life and the lives around me. I was now, a girl on fire, a girl on a mission…

UC Berkeley; it’s prestigious, it’s competitive, it’s acclaimed…it’s full of spirits: Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 3

26 May

On the morning of September 11th 2001, planes crashed into New York skyscrapers…and I had to get to class. It was my first semester at the University of California at Berkeley and not even an attack on domestic soil was going to cancel Sasha Goldman’s lecture. With a classroom full of stunned and emotional students, Sasha ditched her rhetorical analysis of Marcel Proust heady novel to address current events. “I know this is traumatic; what are you guys feeling right now?” Some were in tears, others expressed disgust or sentiments for the lives lost; but for Sasha, this was chance to wipe the whimsy from the minds of her students, to reveal the true, atrocious nature of the United States government. “It’s the government’s fault!’ she proclaimed. “They smashed those airplanes into the buildings.” She went on to enumerate the evils of our country and what she perceived to be U.S. war crimes against a multitude of nations. In the next weeks and months, the campus would become a political battleground complete with protests, rallies, and marches on lecture halls. While sitting through a lesson in Wheeler Hall, our small classroom on the second floor of the monstrous stone building began to bounce. Protesters were crashing like a wave through the halls, chanting and stomping and shaking the old building to its foundation.  Unsure of what mood this mob might take, a large oak outside the window looked pretty appealing as a fire escape while the flood of embolden malcontents went by our classroom.

While a handful of professors and large population of sycophantic students “raged against the machine,” the sense there was something larger, more ominous at work was accentuated during a night lecture on the north side of campus.  In the barn-sized shingled building, Sasha was screening “American Gigolo.” A storm had come in earlier that night, but during the film, rain began pelting the windows and lightning could be heard clapping in the distance. Pelting turned into pounding and what was once a far-off “crack” in the night-air, had now become a roaring thunder. As the weather intensified, so did Sasha; she was determined to awaken her impressionable students to the deep analytical mysteries of this “cinematic masterpiece” which challenged societal sex roles indefinitely. As the rain grew louder, she grew louder; she strained to talk over the downpour but then BAM!…a bolt of lightning struck just outside the building. Students were screaming, but you couldn’t hear it over the deafening rampage of the storm. The building, shaking from the power blast, was rocked a second time as a lightning bolt hit the ground right outside the window and lit the whole room up with its glow. Paralyzed with fear I prayed, “Please Lord, don’t kill me like this.” I had thoughts of Sodom and Gomorra being charred to the ground under a deluge of fire from heaven.  “Spare me and keep this building safe!” I begged. Sasha willfully continued to lecture, but it was in vain; she was actually inaudible and finally gave up talking until the storm had moved on enough so she could shout her points.

As draining and difficult as Sasha Goldman was as a professor, it wasn’t Sasha, it wasn’t the war, it wasn’t the students or even the demanding course load that wore me down to a breaking point.  Yes, all of the above didn’t help, but over my first year at UC Berkeley, there seemed to be another…a larger force at work challenging me, draining me. While the angry opinions, hateful political views and discontent attitudes around campus were intense, it felt like they were being empowered by something outside themselves, maybe someone with a larger objective.  Maybe I was in a Spiritual Battle? As crazy as she seemed at the time, the weird Holy Spirit lady’s words came to mind.

“That place is heavy spiritually, a real war zone. I hope you have been preparing yourself for battle and ready to fight the good fight of the Lord!…You’re gonna need the armor of God to survive in that environment! Most of all you’re gonna need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you in God’s paths of righteousness!”

Maybe she wasn’t so kooky after al; her words began to ring true to me! I did feel like I had been in battle! I did feel battered and bruised spiritually! I did feel the heaviness! I guess I do need the armor of God…and I guess I do need the Holy Spirit. I finally broke and turned to God. As I was going to bed, I decided this was the night I would ask for the Holy Spirit to come and live in me. I shut my eyes tight and prepared myself to receive, but in my mind all I could think was, “How do I know which spirit I’m letting in? What if I let in the wrong one?” Then the Ouija board event came flooding back and terrified me, “What if I let in a bad spirit or even a demon!” My doubt was working me up into a frothy fear. My mind was dominated by worry, which spilled out from me and apparently opened a spiritual door. Pouncing on the momentum, terror and darkness filled my room. It felt as though an encompassing black void engulfed me, I was shaken to my core and paralyzed with terror. Satan had capitalized on my weakness, and there I lie unable and unwilling to move through the dark hours of night…

 

*Names were changed to protect anonymity

 

Intersecting Stories: Welcome into my Heart Jesus; Just Don’t Touch Anything! Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 2 

Don’t Play with Ouija Boards Kids, All spirits are not the same: Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 1 

Welcome into my Heart Jesus; Just Don’t Touch Anything! Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 2

17 May
To be brutally honest, I don’t distinctly remember the event of accepting “Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” However, I do faintly remember being asked by my parents or a Sunday school teacher, “Do you want to let Jesus come and live inside your heart?” It sounded like a good idea at the time and I didn’t think it would hurt…so sure, why not! I pictured this miniature Jesus wearing his white robe.  He walked up to my heart-shaped heart and paused for a moment. Turning his head to catch my gaze, he waited for permission to enter. As soon as I gave the go-ahead, he smiled and put his hand to the brass knob, opening a little door and entering into my heart. Once inside the dark and hollowed-out heart, he sat down, and closed the door behind him. There he was forever in me…my heart-sized pal.
For years, nothing seemed any different; I was right, it didn’t hurt a bit! In the fall of 2001, I was going to be attending UC Berkley.  Before my course load could take over, my mother suggested we attend The ALPHA Course at our church, so I could get a better understanding of my faith. The lessons cover everything from “Who is Jesus?” and Why did he die?” to “How can I resist evil?” As I sat through the courses, I finally learned who this Jesus was residing in my heart. He wasn’t my pint-sized helper; he was a radical man who came to remove the barrier between humanity and its Creator. But the classes that rocked me the deepest were about the Holy Spirit: “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “What does the Holy Spirit do?” and “How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?” Although the sessions were enlightening, the whole thing creeped me out.
“Spirit!” I thought to myself, “I remember the last time I got mixed up with spirits!” It was as though the word “Holy” was not just before the word “Spirit;” I didn’t care if he was Holy, un-holy, good, bad or ugly; no “spirit” was getting inside of me!
Nearing the end of my final semester at junior college, I was attending an awards ceremony with my mother. As we waited for it to begin, a woman in the receiving area struck up a conversation with us, “where are you transferring to?”
“UC Berkeley,” I responded, very proud of myself and sure that she would be too.
“Oh wow!” she responded, but then took me by surprise, “Are you a believer? If you are, you better be careful!”
“What are you talking about?” I responded offensively that she wasn’t purely impressed with my future University, but rather was focusing on my faith.
“That place is heavy spiritually, a real war zone. I hope you have been preparing yourself for battle and ready to fight the good fight of the Lord!” She swung her arms wildly and took on a warriors stance, “You’re gonna need the armor of God to survive in that environment! Most of all you’re gonna need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead you in God’s paths of righteousness!”
“This woman is crazy!” I thought to myself. “And what is the deal with this Holy Spirit? If she’s what ‘having the Holy Spirit’ looks like…no thank you!”
And when I attended UC Berkeley that fall, I strong-armed the Holy Spirit as long as I could…until I couldn’t.
Here’s a link to The ALPHA Course – I recommend it HIGHLY!

Don’t Play with Ouija Boards Kids: All spirits are not the same: Receiving the Holy Spirit Part 1

10 May

Hands perched on the plastic guide, my sixteen year old brother was determined to prove the Ouija board was nothing more than a modern-day superstition. As a budding engineer and mathematician, if it’s wasn’t measurable by science, it was a fanciful fairytale or snake oil trickery. The four of us had been playing with the Hasbro board game for nearly an hour; even though our parents had strictly warned us never to play with a Ouija board, we figured it couldn’t be that dangerous since it was sitting right there on our cousins’ bookshelf.  My older cousin Terry and I had used up our turns asking the Ouija board questions about friends, who we would marry, and what we would do when we “grew up;” my brother finally had enough. “You’re moving that thing, I can see you moving it,” my brother cried out. “I saw your hands pushing it over letters to spell ‘dolphin trainer!’” But no matter how much we objected or even when we tried it as a group all together, my brother would still claim, “Someone here is moving it.”

My brother was going to put an end to this nonsense once and for all, assured he would prove  the Ouija board operated through ‘power of suggestion’ or flat out fakery on someone’s part. Pairing himself up with my pre-kindergarten cousin, he determined there could be no variable for cheating since my cousin couldn’t spell.  Because he wasn’t trying to trick himself, and his partner was incapable of pulling one over on him, he predicted the outcome was going to be…a lot of nothing.  He scanned the room for a question that could have no subjective answer. He couldn’t ask the Ouija board about his future or what someone’s favorite color was, because that too could be a manipulated answer. He spotted a stack of magazines on the coffee table and randomly formulated a question, “In the third magazine down, on page, um…twenty four, what is the forth to the last word on the page?” The planchette began to move, my little cousin was under suspicion.  As it glided across the board, through the round window it paused for a moment over, “G.” Then it quickly slid over the letter, “O.” From there it highlighted, “L” and finally, “F.” Eyes wide, we all became suddenly sheepish. My brother pushed the top two magazines off the pile and picked up the third. Opening to page twenty four, we all crowded around to see the results…”and golf was her passion.”

Screaming, there was lots of screaming. I feel like we all jumped to our feet so quickly we almost hit the ceiling; someone grabbed the Ouija board and flung it across the room. Terrified, we fled to the hall and trampled each other down the staircase; no one wanted to be “last”…that’s always the one in the movies that gets taken.  After that day, we didn’t speak about the incident; not only was I sure my brother and I would get in deep trouble with our parents, I was freaked out to discover there was something outside myself that I couldn’t see and couldn’t control. Yet, while we wouldn’t talk about the incident again for another twenty years over a Christmas dinner, as a child of eight years old, little did I know this event would cause huge issues in my life with receiving God, receiving part of the Trinity…His Holy Spirit.

Whisper to a Scream: Hearing God’s Voice

8 May

One of the most frequent questions asked when people are learning to hear God’s voice is, “How do I know if it’s me or God?” One answer to this question not only helps discern God’s voice compared to our own, but also gives insight into a principle of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Imagine you are in your room on a quiet night reading a good book; it’s just getting dark outside as it begins to rain. By the soft glow of your lamp, you snuggle in as the storm outside grows, blowing wind and pelting raindrops…suddenly “BANG,” a thunder clap echoes through the valley startling you!  

Here’s the Principle: In the natural realm, when you experience something, that experience will be the most real and vivid. In trying to recall the same event, it will only become duller. Meaning, if I asked you to recall a thunder clap, I can almost guarantee your recollection of that event will pale in comparison to the actual real event when you heard it firsthand.

However, when God speaks to us, often the first time you hear something He’s saying, it’s the quietest. When God speaks, it’s sometimes (not always) an internal whisper. Yet in time, the thing God spoke to you in the quiet of your heart, seems to grow clearer and louder over time almost to the point that it seems to be reverberating in your bones. The Principle: In the Kingdom of Heaven, everything only gets bigger and brighter, moving from glory to glory.  It’s a Kingdom that never fades or diminishes. “‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  Haggai 2:9

Personal Experience:  My friend’s boyfriend and I didn’t get along; there was a mutual dislike between us. One night as I was falling asleep, I felt the slightest question come to mind, “Would you wash John’s car if God asked you to?” At first I disregarded the thought as insanity. The next day it seemed to breeze past me again, “Would you wash John’s car if God asked you to?” This time I was agitated and found the question obnoxious. By the third time, God asked me directly, “Would you wash John’s car if I asked you to?” Now I was convicted; I began to ponder my prideful and stubborn attitude toward my dear friend’s boyfriend. This car washing question was now haunting me!  Finally I faced up to the problem, “Lord,” I started, “I feel like you are challenging me to ‘love my enemies,’” I grumbled. “So the answer is ‘YES,’” I conceded. “If you asked me to wash John’s car, I would do it.”

“Good, just wanted to know,” is how I felt the Lord respond to the raw revelation of my heart. With a sigh of relief, I was glad that ordeal was over and in actuality God was NOT requesting I actually go and wash John’s car. The pay off…my attitude was now changed toward John, and in turn, so did our relationship. I took him and my friend out to dinner apologizing for my behavior; they graciously accepted and we all moved forward (it’s a good thing too because a few years later they got married).

God was increasingly vibrating an attitude out of my heart until it shook free. What began as a passing whisper in my soul, intensified into a throbbing concern as God’s voice rocked my being.

What passing thought might God be using to speak to you?

Do you have a fleeting idea that challenges you in a loving, scary way?

Don’t dismiss it, turn aside and take a look at it; see if God grows it with intensity within you?

Walking un-Dead Preach about Jesus?

4 May

Bible 411: Did you know that after Jesus’ resurrection, holy people who had died, came out from their tombs and walked around town talking to people?

Gist: After Jesus was crucified on the cross and resurrected, graves broke open and resurrected holy people (not zombies) wondered into Jerusalem to talk to people! ( Can you imagine this scene! How did they look? What did they say? Why only godly ones? What did people think? Why doesn’t anyone talk about this stuff!)

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.” Matthew 27:50-53